It’s that time again! Steelers Chronicle is bringing you the best Pittsburgh Steelers of all time to wear numbers 41-60, in case you missed them you can check out 00-20 and 21-40 by clicking on their respective links. Remember, this is all fairly subjective, especially when comparing players that have played different positions, but wore the same number, so feel more than free to leave a comment, or drop an email to agree, disagree, tell me how much I suck and should have my keyboard broken over my head, etc.
#41 – Lee Flowers, Defensive Back (1995-2002)
Before Troy Polamalu was leading the Pittsburgh Steelers defense to greatness, a man named Lee Flowers was playing strong safety for the team, and doing it well, though his contributions pale in comparison to the 2011 NFL Defensive Player Of The Year. Flowers tackled well, but couldn’t seem to come up with the ball on more than the rare occasion.
#42 –Dick Hoak, Running Back (1961-1970)
Like so many of the other older players in this series, Hoak didn’t just play one position on the offense, but multiple positions. He had lined up at running back, quarterback and receiver when the time called for it, and was named to one Pro Bowl during his career with the team. He finished his career with a respectable 25 touchdowns via the running game.
#43 – Troy Polamalu, Defensive Back (2004-Present)
Despite some recent troubles related to home ownership, Polmalu has had a great football career, in virtually every level of the game. Known as much for his long locks as his play making ability, he’s become a fan favorite, and one of the most hated players in the NFL at the same time. Boasting six Pro Bowls, and three First Team All Pro selections, he is widely regarded as the best safety in the league today, and has certainly made quarterbacks think twice before releasing the ball.
#44 – Frank Pollard, Running Back (1980-1988)
Pollard was part of a Steelers decade that makes fans happy they had the 1970’s to look back on. He played with the Steelers for his entire career, amassing 20 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards. He switched up positions now and then, getting time in at running back, full back and even returning some kicks.
#45 – Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala, Running Back (1998-2002)
Fuamatu-Ma’afala is, among other things rough to spell correctly, and to fit on an NFL jersey. Unfortunately for him, his career wasn’t quite as long as his name, and he spent only four years in Pittsburgh, ultimately finishing his career with under 1,000 yards rushing and less than 10 touchdowns. Number 45 needs a namesake in Pittsburgh, any guesses?
#46 – Bill Walsh, Center (1949-1954)
Walsh split his playing time between wearing #46 and #56, but due to a lackluster group of players, gets the nod at #46 without much thought, his two Pro Bowls and single selection as a First Team All Pro, literally puts him head and shoulders above the rest of the group.
#47 – Mel Blount, Defensive Back (1970-1983)
A Hall Of Fame Inductee in 1989 (great year by the way), Blount helped revolutionize the corner back position, while terrorizing opposing receivers, with his tall, lean frame he had the ability to bat passes down, and truly frustrate quarterbacks and receivers alike. Blount finished his career with 57 interceptions, five Pro Bowls, and two First Team All Pro selections to his name.
#48 – David Little, Linebacker (1981-1992)
Little gets the nod over John Rowser mainly because of his tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After three years of playing sparingly, he stepped into a starting role and didn’t relinquish it until he retired in 1992. Little is just another name on a long list of Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers that have impressed football fans and coaches alike.
Another defensive back on this list (have you noticed how many great ones the Steelers have had yet?), Woodruff was the Steelers starting corner during most of the 1980’s, again, a decade that fans would seemingly like to forget if at all possible. He performed admirably, picking off 37 passes, including a 78 yarder in 1988.
#50 – Larry Foote, Linebacker (2002-2009, 2010-Present)
Foote makes the list over Earl Holmes and John Reger mainly because of his current presence, and intangible veteran leadership that he’s displayed nearly every year since coming to Pittsburgh in 2002, and again in 2010. Foote has arguably better statistics than Holmes, and it’s really rough to compare him to Reger because of the positions and eras in which they played.
#51 – James Farrior, Linebacker (2002-Present)
After not living up to the first round selection that the New York Jets used on him, he came to Pittsburgh and surpassed those expectations tenfold. Farrior has been a leader, and a phenomenal player in the middle of one of the toughest defenses in recent memory since 2002. Nicknamed The Ultimate Farrior, he has been to two Pro Bowls, and was named a First Team All Pro in 2004, the same year that he barely lost out on winning the Defensive Player Of The Year Award.
#52 – Mike Webster, Center (1974-1988)
One of the greatest centers of all time, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the good fortune of drafting him in the fifth round of a spectacular 1974 NFL Draft. 23 years later, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. During those years, he went to nine Pro Bowls, and was named First Team All Pro five separate times.
#53 – Clark Haggans, Linebacker (2000-2007)
Haggans was the man playing both outside linebacker spots before the emergence of James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, but was subsequently replaced by both of those players at two separate positions in the linebacking corps. Haggans had a good run in a Steelers uniform, garnering 32.5 sacks and forcing 12 fumbles before departing to the Pittsburgh Steelers Elephant Graveyard – the Arizona Cardinals.
#54 – Hardy Nickerson, Linebacker (1987-1992)
Nickerson’s career didn’t truly break out until he left Pittsburgh for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but while his time in Pittsburgh didn’t net him any awards, he was still a very solid contributor to the defense. Over his six years in Pittsburgh, he racked up 426 tackles and 9.5 sacks.
#55 – Joey Porter, Linebacker (1999-2006)
To this day, Porter remains one of the Pittsburgh Steelers most beloved players in the eyes of fans. Mainly due to his enigmatic personality and ability to get to the quarterback (he’s currently three away from 100 in his career), he helped lead the 2005 Steelers to a Super Bowl win, coming up big in a playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning. Porter finished off as a Steeler with 60 sacks and 17 forced fumbles, and as of last year, found himself playing alongside Haggans once more in Arizona.
Robin Cole was another player considered for the spot at #56, but ultimately, Woodley has gotten to the quarterback more times in less seasons, of course, making the switch between outside linebacker and inside linebacker may have had a large effect on Cole’s pass rushing success. Woodley has 39 sacks since 2007, and along with James Harrison is one half of the NFL’s most feared pass rushing duo.
#57 – Mike Merriweather, Linebacker (1982-1987)
Merriweather is regarded as one of the best Steelers linebackers ever, finishing his time with the team with 31 sacks and 11 interceptions. He was voted to three consecutive Pro Bowls from 1984-1986 and was a recognizable figured on a Pittsburgh team in the midst of their Dark Age.
#58 – Jack Lambert, Linebacker (1974-1984)
There can be only one. Lambert is one of the most recognizable Pittsburgh Steelers of all time, a man that epitomized the Steelers defense, and another Hall of Famer from the Draft Class of 1974. Widely regarded as the best Steelers linebacker of all time, 28 interceptions and 17 forced fumbles don’t tell the half of the story as far as his importance to the teams he played on, and the team’s history in general.
#59 – Jack Ham, Linebacker (1971-1982)
The other familiar face in the discussion of who the best Steelers linebacker of all time, Jack Ham is also a Hall Of Famer that made his living punishing opposing running backs and quarterbacks, picking the latter off 32 times from his linebacker position. Eight consecutive Pro Bowls, and six consecutive All Pro Selections, and you’ve certainly got an argument between him and Lambert.
#60 – Ben McGee, Defensive End (1964-1972)
A two time Pro Bowler before the Steelers glory years, McGee was also named First Team All Conference in 1966. In 1967, he intercepted a pass and took it 21 yards to the end zone.
Remember, if you missed the first two installments of By The Numbers, you can check them out below.